Truant Students; Lawless School Board; Feckless Board of Education

By John R. Butcher
 
The always kind Clerk of the School Board sent me the list of unexcused absences for the 2016-17 school year.  That list shows the number of unexcused absences for each of 27,221 students.
CAVEAT:  VDOE reports a Fall membership at RPS of 24,868 that year.  Perhaps the 2,353 difference reflects turnover during the school year; perhaps there is a problem somewhere in these datasets.  In any case, these are their numbers.  I’ll go with the 27,221 total, given that I have absence numbers for that many students.
Here, to start, is the distribution:
image
OOPS:  An alert reader noticed that the axis labels were reversed on this graph in the original post.  This is the corrected graph.
While I’m at it, here is that graph abbreviated to show only the distribution for 40 or more absences:
image
Those numbers range from 5927 students with no unexcused absences to the one Big Winner with 137.  (That is one hundred thirty-seven; it is not a typo.)
At the other end of the scale, only 21.8% of Richmond students had no unexcused absences.  Said otherwise: 78.2% had one or more unexcused absences.
Or, for a more detailed picture:
image
image
The “7 or more” is a magic category.  Va. Code § 22.1-258requires the following:
  • Any absence: Notify parents; obtain explanation;
  • 5 absences: Attendance plan;
  • 6 absences: Conference with parents; and
  • 7 absences: Prosecute parents or file CHINS petition.
These actions are not optional: The statute says “shall” throughout.
In 2017, Richmond had 7,234 students with seven or more unexcused absences; they brought 173 prosecutions and filed 60 CHINS petitions.  That’s a 3.22% compliance with the law.  Viewed otherwise, it’s a 96.8% rate of violation by our School Board.
The flagrant violations of 2017 are part of a history of flagrant violations:
image
Our Board of “Education,” which has the duty to enforce § 22.1-258, has done nothing about this ongoing defiance of state law.
In the meantime, Richmond had the third lowest reading pass rate and the second lowest math pass rate in the state in 2017.
Your tax dollars at “work.”